September is Suicide Prevention Month. In the U.S., the week of September 5th to the 11th is dedicated to suicide prevention, and September 10th is worldwide Suicide Prevention Day.
The goal is to raise awareness in our communities, educate others, and offer grief support to those who have lost a loved one. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, suicide has risen to a 30-year high. It’s increased in every age group except for those 75 and older. The statistics are shocking:
- From 1999 to 2014, the overall rate has grown 24%.
- The rate of suicide among women ages 45-64 grew 63% since 1999, and for men 45-64 it rose 43%.
- A CDC report found that on average, a suicide occurs every 13 minutes in the U.S.
- It’s the 10th-leading cause of death for Americans and the second-leading cause for those between 15 and 24.
- In 2014, 42,773 people died from suicide.
But suicide is so much more than just statistics. Each number represents the sudden and tragic loss of a human being. And it leaves countless survivors lost and looking for answers.
Suicide deaths can be prevented, and that’s why it is important to talk about it. Here are some areas in which your funeral home can help — not just for the month of September, but year-round.
Raising public awareness about suicide is crucial. Unfortunately, our society still attaches a stigma to suicide. Raising awareness is the best way to start the conversation, getting the topic of suicide out into the open. The more people discuss suicide, the better we can be at recognizing signs and preventing it.
Here are a few ideas to help raise awareness in your community:
- Start a social media campaign. Social media is a simple and fast way to reach families and followers in your community. Start off by letting them know that September is Suicide Prevention Month. Share links to resources and helpful information. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention provides helpful fact sheets and information for each state.
- Host a community event or seminar. You can even seek out others in the community, such as local health and government organizations. Schools and universities are also great resources. There are many people who have been directly affected by suicide that are willing to speak out to raise awareness. Organize the seminar around speakers and offer prevention strategies.
- Go beyond your community and look at resources from national organizations. There are several groups bringing attention to suicide and providing resources to help prevent it. Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE) has several initiatives to help communities and to organize awareness events. To learn more, click here.
Suicide is a complex issue and is misunderstood by many. That’s why educating the community about suicide is an important part of awareness and prevention.
The Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) is a great place to start looking for educational material. They have webinars, workshops, and online courses to help educate people about suicide prevention. By enrolling in a workshop or webinar, you’ll be better equipped to directly help your community.
SAVE also has great educational resources you could consider, from an easy way to book suicide prevention speakers to their “Let’s Talk About It” Program. According to the SAVE website, the “Let’s Talk About It” Program is designed to give you “the answers you need on mental health, mental wellness, and suicide prevention. Each event is custom designed to fit the needs or requirements of your community group.” Partner with churches, schools, and even families to help organize your own “Let’s Talk About It” Program or something similar.
While September is focused on preventing suicide, it’s also a good time to reach out to those affected by it. As a funeral director, you’ve probably dealt firsthand with families struggling with the loss of a loved one from suicide.
The bereavement process for suicide is different than other deaths. Funeral directors have a unique position to provide bereavement resources to families coping with suicide. Use this month to train staff or learn some strategies yourself for supporting suicide survivors. The SPRC has a whole guide for funeral directors here.
There are several crisis hotlines that are available 24/7 for anyone who may need help. Share these resources with your community.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline — 1-800-273-8255
- Samaritans Crisis Services — (877) 870-4673
- Crisis Text Line — Text START to 741741
- The Trevor Project — 1-866-488-7386
- For a full list of organizations dedicated to providing resources on suicide prevention, click here.